Around The Bend In The Road

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One of my passions in life is to listen to people’s stories. To know people through their stories. To see people through their experiences. To try and understand the meaning behind the expressions.

Everyone has a story inside them. With some, the story leaks out slowly, while with others, it pours out, causing a flood of emotions. Some stories bring sweet memories, and some bring bitter tears. Funny, sad, mesmerizing, sweet. Stories of what is right, as well as some difficult lessons from regrets. Anyone that has lived for any amount of time on this spinning orb, has that story.  Their story. The story that only he/she can tell.

The stories become real and personal. The words wind their way through time and memory, etching meaning into the mundane as well as the miraculous.

This week I am going to begin to tell a story. My story.

I hope you will join me.

 

Finding Beauty

The older I get the more I want to find beauty. To see it in people’s faces. To recognize it in their laughter. To find it in their tears. Life is a struggle (for us all), and so many times I find myself weighted down with all the things that are going on in the world, but yet still…I look for ways to list all the ways that people are beautiful. The smooth, sweet smelling skin of my five month old grand daughter, her contagious laughter instantly changing my mood. The older lady in the store parking lot, smiling at me. The UPS delivery man who is always so friendly and kind, even though I know he is tired. My husband who works hard for me and for his family. The neighbors who offered help, and unconditional support when we lost our beloved dog. My friends who know me, and know my heart, and I theirs. There is beauty. I just keep my eyes open for it.

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I enjoy being outside. I like to take sky pictures… And field pictures… And animal pictures. And yes, people pictures, in my search for beauty. The other night I walked out on the deck, waiting to call the dogs in for the night. The cold, crisp winter air was still as I peered up. The sky was blacker than ink, with sparkling glitter. I find moments like this to be holy. I am reminded how small I am, and how big God is. The intricate workings of the Milky Way, created by the sound of His voice. Beautiful.

Scented soap homemade from a friend, texted messages and voicemails from family and friends, iced tea, and iced coffee, holding hands and holding hearts, baby laughter, and giggles, good books and timeless stories, friendships that have withstood both time and distance, children who are now adults, but still say, “I love you”, pictures on the refrigerator, and smiles from strangers at the grocery store, dogs that lay their heads in my lap and lick me until I pet them, wedding rings and commitment, love and loyalty and fun. God is so good and He chooses to gift me with beautiful people and beautiful moments and ……..

I am so thankful.

 

 

It’s A Wonderful Life

Yes, it is true. This movie is one of my all time favorites to watch during the Christmas season. I wait for that time when George Bailey realizes that his life really did make a difference, and that things would be different if he had never existed. Most of all he realizes he truly does have a wonderful life.

I agree with George Bailey. Sometimes all we need is a reminder……

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Top Twenty Reasons It Truly IS A Wonderful Life: 

*Celebrating Jesus’ birth, the greatest gift of all (all other gifts pale in comparison to God entering time and space to make a difference for all eternity)

*Remembering The Light of the world (the baby born on that day so long ago, that grew into a man that shattered the dark– of hopelessness, and separation of man from God—because of His love for us)

* Christmas music (my favorites are O Holy Night, and White Christmas)

*Family, both near and far ,that I love and love me right back. (family in different states who don’t let the miles get in the way of showing love)

*All the kids home for Christmas (even though they are young adults)

*A new daughter-in-law (our first Christmas together)

*A new granddaughter, seeing everything for the first time. (is there anything more precious?)

*Sweet baby laughter (I could listen to this all day long)

*White lights (simple and pure)

* Hot Chocolate (home made, not from a packet)

*Snow on the ground (preferred over the ice)

*A warm house (yes!)

*New opportunities (one year is ending, a new one getting ready to begin)

*Friends (I am so blessed)

*The nice UPS guy--(we see him a lot)

*An “A”in my grad class (Hallelujah!)

*Time off from school (rest? maybe?)

*Watching Christmas movies with the family (fun times)

*Outside twinkle lights (it “looks” like Christmas)

*The night sky—Silent Night, Holy Night (there is nothing better than the winter night sky, cold and clear)

 

 

I Can No Longer Feel My Fingers

My family and I moved to Ohio seven and a half years ago. Even though I am originally from Maryland and my husband from upstate New York (so yes, we know cold and snow) with lengthy stops for each of us in Texas and Tennessee–there is something to be said for the cold AND wind here in rural Ohio. The wind makes things one hundred times worse!

Today our high is supposed to hover around 10, with (yes!) a windchill of -15. Even with insulated gloves on, my hands are cold by the time I get over to the barn to feed our horse, Jazz. I’m not complaining, because over all I enjoy winter. I just wish I could feel my fingers.

When Scott and I were building our farmhouse in the middle of what was once a cow field, I remember we were building (well, okay “we” in the sense of we were paying for it, not “we” as in actually building the house) and it was February and it was snowing and the wind was blowing. I was suited up like Nanook of the North. I should have known!

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Before And After…

This Monday, October 10th, would have been my late husband’s 50th birthday. He passed away almost 16 years ago, just a few weeks after he turned 34. The old saying about how time stops for no one, really is true. A lot has happened in the years since his death, much has changed.

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Sometimes on special occasions or during certain events, I am reminded of the hands of time. My husband, a huge Dale Earnhardt fan, didn’t know his NASCAR hero died in the last lap of the Daytona  500 in February of 2001. He never watched in horror, as the Twin Towers fell, and thousands perished on that fateful day in September. He wasn’t there when our son was baptized, or when he graduated from high school. He didn’t vote in the last few elections, and never got to see his grandchildren be born.

For those of us that have lost a loved one, a strange thing happens. Life becomes a series of, “before’s and after’s”. Remembering what happened before that person passed. And, what has happened since?

Thinking about Kennis today. Looking at pictures and noticing his lopsided grin, that lives on in our son. Reading the words his daughter posted to me, about missing her Dad. At certain times, the embers of remembrance are stirred until a bright flame breaks through the darkness. A time comes when one starts celebrating the life that was, instead of mourning the death that occurred.

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However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–       1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

 

 

 

I Don’t Want To Miss Them

Life gets busy and I fall into bed at night, exhausted.

My to do list is long and my need to rest is even longer.

There are days when I go from one thing to the next,

forgetting to live in the moments that are now.

Stop. Slow down. Look around.

I whisper, “Thank you, God, for these moments.”

I don’t want to miss them. Not now. Not ever.

Being thankful is a gift in itself, and there is always so much to be thankful for.

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Like Sand Through The Hourglass…

 

 

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Like sand through the hourglass….so are the days of my life. (Hmmmm, I think I may have heard that phrase somewhere)

I turned forty-eight yesterday. Getting older hasn’t really bothered me, per se. I mean, what’s the alternative, right? I’m not upset about being just two years away from FIFTY, but I do find it rather shocking. The other day, some classmates from high school were talking about having a thirtieth reunion this Fall, for the class of 1986. In my mind, the eighties were last week. Does that prove I’m aging?!

 

Is my life perfect? No. Whose is? We all live in a world that is full of great joys, and intense tragedies, highs and lows, ups and downs. One can’t get away from that. The truth is, each different season of life is special and unique in its own way. I really would not want to go back in time. (Well, a good friend of mine posted a picture of the two of us when we were twenty-one. Although I like the wisdom that comes with age, I wouldn’t mind still having the bod of a twenty-one year old….) In the midst of the every day, I find myself stopping and appreciating. There is a lot to be said for being in the moment, and going through one’s life with eyes wide open. Out here in rural Ohio, I often find myself driving down back country roads to get to my various destinations. I admire the green, green, grass, the bright blue sky,  the open space, the black and white cows that are trying to nibble on the other side of the fence, and the hawk circling high over a field. I think about my family that loves me and whom I love right back, a husband who makes me laugh, kids who are now young adults, the comfortable house I live in with land to roam, and my (fairly decent) health.

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It has been about five or six years ago since I first read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. (you can read my posts here and here) Her book spoke to me about what it means to be truly thankful for all the ways that God blesses. I will admit, it is a struggle some days to see the blessings when all I want to do is be a grump. When the cat pukes and I have to clean it for the umpteenth time, or the flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds, and the dog digs up my last surviving bush. The days when my children grow up and become more and more independent and I realize my opinion isn’t as important as it used to be. Broken dishes, broken promises, and broken hearts. Some days I force myself to stop, breathe, and start counting out loud, all the ways I am thankful, and all the ways I am loved. God is so good. Even on the hard days.

One day it truly dawned on me (pun intended), that I most likely, have more days behind me, than I do ahead of me. It is highly unlikely that I will live to be one hundred. You want to know something? I’m okay with that. That might sound weird, especially in a society that is so driven by youth and beauty. My days are just as important to me now, maybe even more so, than when I was in my twenties. I know I appreciate them more. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to life’s questions, and on many days I am struggling to understand just like everyone else.

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Today I am able to say that life is good and I am happy.

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